Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has yet to select a vice presidential candidate for the upcoming election. As pundits and voters speculate about the nominee, President Obama allegedly believes it will be General David Petraeus, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Well, not really.
The Drudge Report provided news that Obama secretly thinks that Romney’s vice presidential nominee will be Petraeus. As the story spread across national media, the White House denied that the President ever made the assertion. Petraeus, through a CIA spokesperson, also provided a statement denying any political ambitions.
Petraeus’ denial seems to be genuine since he has consistently asserted that he has no desire for political office. The administration’s denial, on the other hand, seems to be done for damage control. Obama’s dropping of the “P” bomb was done for political reasons and not as an accident.
If the Drudge Report is true, then what does Obama gain by speculating on Romney’s choice with a political fundraiser? It could provide a means to motivate fund raising activities. The Obama campaign is falling behind Romney in campaign donations. A possible Romney/Petraeus ticket may energize liberals and anti-military groups into donating more to the Obama campaign.
Another possibility is that Obama made the statement to check Petraeus’ loyalty. If a Petraeus and Romney meeting did occur, a “leaked” story would require a public statement on Petraeus’ intentions. If Petraeus was interested then he would have to admit to that on the public record. If he wasn’t interested, then Petraeus must make a public statement enabling Obama to solidify his “loyalty” to the President.
The information could also have been provided to confuse Romney supporters. Many conservative voters disagree with Petraeus’ views on homosexuals in the military and on Israel. Also, Romney has been accused of being too moderate by conservatives. Floating the idea of Petraeus as a running mate could require Romney to move farther to the right to maintain support among conservatives. The move would then give Obama a better chance at moderates.
Even if the report is not true, Obama now knows his favorite general will be staying at the CIA. It also helps Obama track down the person who made the statement. He or she may be useful in the future.